Our words matter, yeah? So how can we use them to leave a legacy? Scripture calls us to share what God has done in our lives with the next generation, to tell the stories of God’s mighty acts {Psalm 145:4}, so this month we’re going to come together each Wednesday to talk about legacy.

We’ll talk about the lessons learned from our mothers and grandmothers and friends, the important role women play in leaving these legacies, and how we’re choosing to share our God-stories with the next generation — something we’re all called to do.

It was after Mare Griebe said she was done with me, that I knew.

Mare, she had taken me to my first youth Bible study.

She delivered the thickly folded scribbled notes from the first boy who ever asked me out . . . the one I ended up marrying.

And I had flown half across the country to be her maid of honour. And then again, ten years later to hold her first baby. We talked lactation and I helped with latch and I thought we’d never fall apart.

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We were in grade 9 when she had played me my first Keith Greene song: “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt.” It was the eighties. We had teased bangs and thick glasses and co-joined lives. She gave me more of Jesus.

Sometimes you can wanna to go back — and there ain’t no going back.

She had called that winter. Left a message on the answering machine. I didn’t get around to calling her back for a couple of weeks . . . I folded laundry, made pots of soup, and baked dozens of loaves of bread. I had read history lessons to kids, taken out the garbage, paid bills, checked math homework. I had found a pair of red shoes, picked up knitting and a camera and a lot of lego. Planted a garden, attended meetings, returned emails.

But I didn’t get around to returning her call.

Painful how that is — Your days never fail to betray your priorities.

Late spring that year, the wheat field about in head, I sent Mare a note. A letter slipped in with a package of books, of bits of my heart, of all my love, wrapped with a string of raffia. I tried to reach out — reach right out. I had drawn a heart in the card, there by my name. I tried to explain. Tried to explain how much I loved her and missed her and how was her heart?

It was as the wheat turned gold that Mare wrote back.

Just a digital message, a few pixels long:

You’re busy. I’m good.

God bless. Have a nice life.

Mare

Was she saying . . . what I thought she was saying?

I had read the lines over again, hardly breathing, pixels crumbling away, all that history between us.

I wrote to ask? I wrote all summer. Every week, just a few lines of love. Just because someone decides to move out of your circles, doesn’t mean they move out of the circle of your love.

I sent another card. Another package.

I wish I could go back. Wish I’d just dropped everything and returned her phone call. Wished I’d stayed up a bit later one night and called too late anyway, or dropped something off the to-do list so I didn’t drop a friendship. Wish I had done whatever it took to make a friend know she’s a priority. What can ever be more of a priority than a person?

Friendship is the only thing that will show up at our funerals.

Time and story bind us in ways that can’t ever be severed and this is the call — to honor the ties that bind. Relationship is the currency of all reality and our God is a love body and He hates amputations and He sutures our wounds together with the silver threads of community.

It doesn’t matter what you get done if you’ve undone a heart – and there are no real accomplishments apart from relationship.

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I had walked the fields as the wheat came off in late summer. Walked across the fields before the combines, before the harvest, the wind blowing, the wheat waving goodbye.

I’d stood on the fence line. I’d stood at the edge of that field.

Jonathan and David, they had walked fields.

Jonathan and David, they’d met in the fields where the heads of grain leaned into one another. Leaned into one another and listened and wind blew.

Jonathan — to be a Jonathan for just one woman?

Friendships never just happen — they are forged.

And it’s either the fire of the forging or the searing of the severing.

At a fence post, I had cupped my hand to hold a few kernels of wheat.

Maybe somehow He could do it in me? I could pray to be a Jonathan —

I could pray to be a better friend?

4 Ways to Be a Better Friend

  1. People are Always the Priority
    What’s more of a priority than a person?
  2. Live Maskless
    Bare your faults and the foibles and messy laundry room. The only way to see into another soul — is to be transparent yourself.
  3. Speak Life
    Share freely of your feelings because this may just free us — of the prisons of protection we’ve bound ourselves in. Only speak words that make souls stronger — and speak ill of no one and well of everyone. Speak words of life that make her stronger.
  4. Get Together
    Put on the kettle. Call her and ask her if she wants to go for walk. Pour her a cup of tea. Write a letter. Surprise her with a gift. Pick up the phone.

To be a friend that curves her heart into this safe cup for all her words and feelings to spill, the good and the grit, the grain and the chaff all mixed.

Then in faithful silence to always sift for the good —

and with a whispering prayer —

blow all the grit that chafes away . . .

with a breath of grace.

Community Challenge: Let’s pray this week and ask God to show us how we can leave a legacy through the friendships we cultivate. Is there someone you’ve lost touch with? Someone you need to call? Someone you need to ask their forgiveness? Is there someone you’ve noticed, who seems a little lonely? Someone who looks like they could use a friend right now?

Let’s be givers of friendship, leaving a legacy of love with those we come in contact with!

Catch up on the rest of the series!

Week 1: Launch & Legacy
Week 2: Leave a Legacy You Can Be Proud Of
Week 3: An Invitation to a Legacy of Prayer

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Ann,
    “There are no real accomplishments apart from relationship.” God did not create us because He needed us or because He wanted something from us. He created us purely to be in relationship with Him. Using that as our model, and living in a sinful, selfish world, we need to work hard at forging those relationships with people and keeping them. Thank you for the ways to build and keep those relationships. Personally, I find that being transparent and vulnerable is a key to building a deep and true relationship. If we stay safely on the surface, all we build are acquaintances. Thank you for a beautiful reminder to cherish and work on those relationships that I am blessed to have.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Bev, friend, so grateful for you. It’s always a humbling grace to read your wisdom here. Yes, yes, yes…and thank you. ‘Staying safely on the surface…’ good, true words.

    • Linda Miltzow

      I agree, Bev :) We really do need to work on our relationship continually with each other and Him, in the giving and receiving. God has modeled that so perfectly and even gave us an instruction manual from which to learn!

      Ann, thank you, thank you for your words today, each day, as a reminder to do just that. Giving thanks, for the friendship you give in sharing your story with us, challenging us not only to seek grace and forgiveness when we have wronged and hurt someone, but also to be the one to reach out bravely in love to build new friendships. Perhaps, a smile would be a great way to start!

    • disqus_bT0lJxQWg1

      Bev,

      What a blessing to read your words just after reading Ann’s. I’m so grateful for the encouragement and wisdom you both have shared.

      Blessings,
      J

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friendship with Mare, Ann. Lord knows I’ve been on both ends of that, the one not making time, the one letting go. It hurts, and awakens. People ARE always the priority. Your story is a bittersweet reminder to me today, to reach out. To make time, to really connect–even when it’s hard.

    Love you, friend. Thanks for pointing me to Jesus always. He is the ultimate friend. He shows us how to love.
    Xo

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Oh, Kris, your words always bless. Thank you for your testimony in Jesus, sister…((you))

  • Heidi

    Thank you for these words! This is me. Friendship is hard. Being transparent and maintaining friendships when people move away is hard for me. I am always trying to find words to say along with “I’m sorry.” The reality is, that’s all I have to say. Thank you

  • Elizabeth Fisher

    Thank you for this reminder and challenge. As a military spouse I have insulated myself from the “letting go” by only making surface friends. In a month I start transitioning out of that life into civilian life again and I need to mend and create legacy friendships.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Yes, Elizabeth, and thank you. Know I am praying right now for you and this upcoming transition…praying for legacy friendships, Elizabeth. My heart is with yours…

  • maria

    I hope don’t come across as hard hearted, but though I agree we should not put our friends off for busyness, and I too have done just that, but unless I do that all the time, I would hope that there would be grace for a friendship that goes way back and deep! I know when it is done to me, I am not a fan of that, but I always understand, especially because I have been so overwhelmed especially in certain seasons of life when caring for little ones or for an elderly parent. I hope for grace, and I give it too! I have done it, and all my good friends have done it to me too. Eventually, all have felt they needed the space to do so. And I give grace in turn. We know that we will connect again, which is what you did, leaning into grace expected from a good friend; It’s part of what good friends do for each other.

    I pray for Mare to offer it still some day to you. A friendship is a sad thing to lose, but if there is no grace perhaps that is not a friend worth holding on to. It is a friendship with a certain expectation that punishes if not met. To me that is no friend at all no matter what the past. I feel that more than you, she is the one that lost. Still, your message is not lost on me, and because of it I will be an even better friend, which is one of my highest priorities already! Thank you, Ann, and (in)courage for making this very important point! This world will be the better for it!

    • Sarah S

      I hear you. I feel the same way. All my good friends have extended me much grace, and I also have extended them the same grace. Yet, those who are no longer my friends, the ‘Mares’ in my life, I still love and care for them. I still have grace for them. Even though they’re done with me, I have room for them. And hold that hope in my heart. So, I hear Ann too.

      Blessings Maria!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Sister? No words here. Or — maybe two. You must know how I mean them: thank you. Thanking Jesus for the crazy, unexpected grace of *you* today…love your heart after His, Maria.

    • Nicole Wilkerson

      Agree completely with this! This is the story of my life and of my friendships! So thankful for friends who give and receive grace just as I do. If all my friendships were like this, I’d have none left . . . Grace, grace, all is grace! :)

      • Nicole Wilkerson

        One more thing . . . :) We each have a choice to make. Are we going to extend grace, or are we going to nurse wounds, hold onto offenses, or are we going to give grace, humbling ourselves, taking on the very nature of Christ. Difficult decision, but always one that blesses regardless of the other person’s response. We should always choose humility over justice. We may be justified in our hurt, but are we Christlike in holding onto it? I do not believe we are . . . “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Do as Jesus did . . . Just a thought!

    • Jamie

      I agree, Maria. When a friend chooses to withhold communication after many years, we should not take on the guilt they want us to assume. We need to be confident that our hearts are right, then let God deal with theirs! I never thought my best friend of 40+ years would back away, but when she refused to acknowledge her son’s serial adultery and emotional abuse of his children/her grandchildren, I could not support her actions. Months later, after prayer and Bible study, she came to me to apologize. I had long since forgiven her, but after her missing the death of my mother, my struggles with a critically and chronically ill child, and personal betrayals, there is too much water under the bridge to immediately have the same relationship when she does not reciprocate in efforts to invest time. For now, superficial emails and strained phone calls are rebuilding the broken places. It is in God’s hands whether or not we will recover.

    • Jana Taft

      I love this blog post by Ann and Maria, I completely agree! We must give grace in friendships, and we can only be responsible for our end. When we do apologize, and embrace the truth of the pain our actions bring, hopefully that will be met with grace. If not….then it’s apparent the other person had expectations placed on us that we didn’t fulfill and the only way they can be filled completely is through Jesus. It’s so easy to focus on people with “skin on” and forget they can’t fulfill us and at some point they will let us down and we will let them down because of that skin we live in. Only by God’s grace, do friendships last and deepen. The grace we give to one another when we each mess up. Beautifully said! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathy Rogers

      Oh my Maria, you’ve been walking in my shoes, or at least my heart. Your words are so encouraging. Yes, real life does take the hours of our life, some days more than others. There are those friends that understand and those that don’t. I don’t always practice grace, but I do try. Fortunately God always has plenty of grace for me and I need a lot.

      Ann, sometimes these friendships are with our own kin. I have one in my life. She’s oh so busy and can’t even get in a phone call…it hurts, but today I’m practicing more grace and God is helping me to keep giving and reaching out. As always thank you for accepting God’s gift of writing and sharing it with all us girls.
      In Gods Grace

    • ShoeLamp

      “It is a friendship with a certain expectation that punishes if not met.”

      That may be true for some of the situations mentioned here…but then again it may not be true. It’s a judgment call to say that.

      In this imperfect world, not everyone is mentally healthy. Not everyone has good motives all the time. Not everyone is kind. And not everyone is self-aware. So please, before judging the person who has declined to continue in a relationship with you, please consider that perhaps you did something hurtful, perhaps over and over, and the one who walks away just can’t handle the hurt any more.

      Sometimes the only path to peace is to walk away.

      Yes, I have walked away. From a 40+ year friendship. Because the other person simply Did. Not. Get. It. She was always right, she was always self-righteous, and she never understood my point of view. She judged me, and wow, did I ever look awful when seen through her eyes!

      One day I realized that in order to stay in the friendship I had to accept her view of me. All of her “I love yous” were tinged with how she saw me, what she believed of me.

      Part of me getting healthy was understanding that I didn’t need to have that negativity in my life. I love her. I forgive her for not being the friend I longed for. I forgive her for the hurts over the years. But I won’t pretend we’re friends anymore.

      It’s been 9 months since I severed the tie, and whenever I reflect on my actions, I don’t see how I could have done anything different.

      • maria

        ShoeLamp – I totally understand what you are saying – you are on the other side of the fence and you are the one that finally decided to cut off a relationship. That is why you say I should not judge, and you are right. I would definitely not judge you for that decision. Sometimes, we have to offer grace to others and sometimes we have to decide to cut off an unhealthy relationship as well, hard as it is to do that. It is especially hard to do it after 40+ years. It even takes a certain amount of courage! I know it! I felt I had to do the same at one point in a 40+ year relationship that was starting to come in between my marriage. It was so very hard to do! I hear you, I would not judge you for that and hopefully will not judge the one that choose to leave a friendship with me either as you say, because though I would make every effort to keep a good friend, and ask forgiveness, I am not perfect or always aware of how they are taking my actions. Again, I would expect them to communicate that; more than that I cannot do. I would still expect grace from a friend. I would always give the same, even if they chose to leave, without effort or explanation. At that point, I would have to give myself grace! I really think we are on the same page with this!

        • ShoeLamp

          Thank you, Maria. You are wise. :)

          It was hard to post what I did, as I was afraid I would be misunderstood. You have understood me perfectly. I’m grateful.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey`

    Sweet Ann, this struck me so deeply–straight to my heart’s core–because I have such a friend. She and I go back so many years and share a history that can never be erased–the good times and the bad. And for reasons that I will never understand, she tried to erase the bond. I’m unaware of what I may have done, and after time and again of reaching out over the course of several years, and with my husband’s counsel, I decided to stop. But on her birthday, heart pounding out of my chest, barely able to breathe, I decided to telephone to sing her the birthday song as I had done every year. I got the voice mail. But I had also literally broken the silence with music. It’s then that I received (after those silent years) a dear-John, abbreviated email. I had to read between the lines because the lines were so few, but it didn’t take much for me to know that she was ending the friendship. My husband encouraged me to let her go, because he could see that the pain for me was deep and because I had tried to reach out repeatedly to no avail. I decided to try one, last time, admitting how deceptive my heart could be, and asking her to forgive any sins that I had committed against her, even if unwittingly. She responded with a letter by post, and since that time, while I will never know what happened, we have resumed our relationship. Sometime, God patches up friendship’s frayed fabric, and sometimes He doesn’t. I was prepared that He would not. All we can do is, by His grace, attempt reconciliation, and with this He is pleased, as He is well pleased with you for so doing. And then, we leave the results with Him, knowing in the end, that we have a Friend, Christ Jesus, who never leaves or fails us, a Friend who lays down His life. May it bring you so much joy to know His friendship today and through all eternity. Thank you for this beautiful sharing.
    Love
    Lynn

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Lynn! Thanks to our God who can and does and will redeem everything…for all is grace. Grateful you’ve taken the time and shared your heart with us here – so real and transparent. Reaching over and squeezing your hand tights, Lynn. Staggering grace — may we never get over it!

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Thank you so much, Ann. Again, I am moved to tears. Oh yes, yes, staggering, stunning grace! Bless you, dear one.

    • Barbara Levich

      I have had this happen as you say but the dear friend was my only sibling, my sister. She cut me off and cut my heart. I have just kept the door open and we now sometimes speak but the second-self that she was during our growing up years is gone and I mourn the loss.

  • Linda Miltzow

    I’m the “Mare” who wrote the note. How my heart ached from the brokenness and betrayal in our friendship. It hurt to play second fiddle to the new friends and the “I was soooo busy…” excuses. The grief felt like a divorce. What once was was the closest of friendships, that included husbands and children, was nearly non-existent. Silent tears, endless searching as to what went wrong, and the greatest wondering Why? I vividly remember one night laying in bed praying, calling out to our Father, when He whispered “Come here. Come sit on my lap and let me just hold you for a while. It will be okay. You will be okay. I Am with you. I will never leave.” With His arms wrapped securely around me, for the first time in months I felt an undeniable peace about this and slept deeply.
    As we mature and grow in our walk with the Lord, we ask that we would become more like our greatest Friend. Sometimes that comes from the broken places of our lives. No friendship should be greater than the one we have with Him. None. Jesus is the only one we are to replicate in our friendship with all others. The good ones, the messy ones, the broken ones.
    He did not let me out of this broken friendship.
    It will never be what it was, but I’m not sure I would want to go back to that either. He has asked that I reach out in His love, with grace and mercy. After all isn’t that just what He does for us each and every day?

    “We love because He first loved us.”~~1 John 4:19
    Giving Him all the praise and thanks for The Greatest Friendship of all!

    • Sarah S

      <3 You are Brave. Cherished. Loved. I know it!

      • Linda Miltzow

        Thank you, Sarah, for your sweet words.
        Continuing to pray for and love ALL, as He has taught us.

    • Judy

      All our relationships are so marred by the result of the Fall. Deep pain and disappointment with each other is probably an inevitable consequence in all our lives. As you and Ann have discovered, hurt in a friendship leads to sorrow. An inability to re-enter the place of trust on the one hand, and an inability to assuage guilt are both excruciatingly isolating places to be. I am not sure that our human capacities ever allow us to fully overcome places of significantly broken trust, but God graciously provides us with instruction for what we must endeavour to do, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:32)” May you both know His peace in doing so.

      • Linda Miltzow

        Judy, thank you for the Amen! to the very words God spoke to me. He would not let me settle until my heart was in tune with His. It is a hard road travelled and a long journey. I do know that out of this, Jesus has shown me that my very best friend is Him….always and forever! That has brought the peace!

    • Jennifer

      So sorry for your hurt. I’ve been there too… Racking my brain for yrs on what I did wrong. Busy can be such a four letter word that so devalues and I try to understand but when days turn into months and yrs it sure hurts. I pray somehow God can restore. I believe God is always desiring reconciliation of His children. Still praying for some of my friemdships to be restored as well, but I may very well respond as you have. So many yrs and so much pain attached. God bless you.

      • Linda Miltzow

        May I keep you in prayer, Jennifer?

      • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

        Jennifer, God sees our spoken and unspoken broken…and presses His healing wounds into ours. He has us, sister…

      • muchalone

        Me too…thanks for sharing words that tell me I’m not alone…
        I also wonder what I did (do?) wrong? What is wrong with me? How can I be that ‘better’ friend…the one who is worth taking time for…
        Oh, how it helps to read these posts of others who have come through this pain and continued following God…
        I don’t hold out much hope for those friendships, but I keep seeking God’s direction…for His leading to the next thing after failures…His way, not mine…
        It’s a continual struggle…always wondering how to find that place of grace…how to live grace through the hurt.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Ah, Linda, though we have never met, I so hear your heart… We’ve all been “Mare” and know that betrayal and brokenness, *yes* — and that Jesus whispers to us in all our wounds: “I will never leave you or forsake you…”
      You are so brave to keep reaching out with grace and mercy in your situation, through such pain — your note here today touched me deeply. *Thank you,* thank you, thank you…

      • Linda Miltzow

        Ann, I never really thought of myself as brave in this. I just know He called me to be obedient to His Word and trust Him even in the hard place. Thank you for sharing your heart today. Praying that your Mare will one day feel the same and bravely reach out in grace to you.

        • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

          I would never, ever deserve that grace — but would cup it like the greatest treasure…
          You ministered to so many of us today, Linda.
          THANK YOU.

    • CHosking

      Thank you Linda for sharing your story. I identify with your experience, and the pain. My heart physically hurt with a pain I had not never felt before.

      Ps 55:12-14 “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; If a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man (woman) like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship.”

      It has been 2 1/2 years and I still grieve the loss of my closest friend. I wanted to cling onto her and not give up on the friendship, I extended grace after grace. She was the one too busy for me, but I called, I emailed, I texted…I kept pursuing her. Then God tenderly spoke to me and told me I needed to let her go. Those words brought peace in the midst of the pain.

      This was the second time it’s happened to me, and I grieve the loss of those 2 friends. I grieve what we had…or what I thought we had. I am praying that God would bring to me a “Jonathan” who would not discard me when life get’s busy or the seasons change. That He would help me be willing to trust and be vulnerable again and open my heart to new friendships.

      • Veronica

        Praying for you right now, dear one that He will bring you a Jonathan. Xox

    • Veronica

      Linda, I’ve been blessed in my life to have a few really great friendships, but the past few years have been really tough. A couple of relocations for my husband work and gradually those few good friendships gradually ended due to physical distance. New friendships turned out to be not what I thought they were and I grieved the loss of them. But the places of hurt draw me closer to God and to knowing that He will bring new people in my life at the right time. So appreciated your honest words “No friendship should be greater than the one we have with Him. None. Jesus is the only one we are to replicate in our friendship with all others. The good ones, the messy ones, the broken ones.”

  • Theresa and Tom ODonnell

    I lost a best friend like Mare too, and never knew what happened. I have tried to reconnect and I grieved for years. God has healed my heart and given me other friends to cherish. Sometimes God puts people in our lives for just a season. I treasure those years of child raising, painting, and friendship with Debbie and wish it could have continued. I just pray that she has forgiven me for whatever I did or said to wound her enough to cut me out of her life. I pray blessings on her and her family.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Theresa, wrapping you close in my heart just now with prayer. He holds you close, sister.

  • Penny

    Ann,

    It’s so sad to hear of the loss of your friendship even after you tried so hard to make it right……

    It was one of those times when I should of…. As I sat staring out the window driving out of the city my friend lived in he flashed through my mind. How could I have forgotten? Three days later I got the call. We shared the same BD, he always called me on that day. It is one of the things I will miss the most. If there is a friend that you want to reach out to please don’t hesitate and make the same mistake that I did.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Totally convicted right now. One friendship in particular has begun to slip. And it’s simply wrong. I’m calling her as soon as I finish here.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart, Ann. And for the reminder that people are always more important than the to-do’s in my day, than seeking after a dream, than things. I needed the priority re-alignment this morning.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Jeanne, friend — just thank you for the way you live — all for Jesus.

  • Lissa Untalan

    Bless you for sharing this with us. I read this and I feel the scars again. That itchiness means I am healing, ever so slowly.

    I think I lost someone very recently, I think. I went for broke, and so did my heart. *sigh* This is such a timely article, affirming and eye-opening. She has stated that her time is best spent in the space, while I had spaced my time around spending time with her. We just didn’t see eye to eye, and now possibly heart to heart.

    “To be a friend that curves her heart into this safe cup for all her words and feelings to spill, the good and the grit, the grain and the chaff all mixed.
    Then in faithful silence to always sift for the good —
    and with a whispering prayer —
    blow all the grit that chafes away . . .
    with a breath of grace.”

    I’m not sure what story bounds us as there was no ample time to share or forge; she has severed it. But maybe she’ll show up at my funeral. Only God would know her heart then.

    I am thankful for those who are here, forging this gift into a legacy. And maybe in the searing of the severing, I can give a glad goodbye… one day.

  • alina yavorskiy

    Ann thank you for this… My mother always taught me that all friendships are fake friends don’t stay but family does, she had a bad experience with friendships that just hurt her, and growing up that’s what I heard. I am a mother myself now…relationships with close people should grow not dwindle, a true friend is more than a pot of gold. Hope to pass that on to my daughters and son.and leave a legacy.

    Alina yavorskiy

  • Kamea Hope

    Sweet Ann,
    I am deeply sorry for the ache in your heart. I pray that God would restore your relationship with this dear friend. I pray that she would come to see your very real love for her, and that in God’s timing all things would be set right. Reading this reminded me of a situation where I dropped the ball with someone, due to misguided priorities. I wanted to beat myself up over it, but I know that in Him there is no condemnation. I chose to cling to the valuable lesson learned – that the hearts and needs of people need to take priority in our lives. I believe that my loving, heavenly Father worked through this situation by changing my heart, and better preparing me to minister His grace in the future. You are such a blessing, Ann. Thank you for your transparency, and for shining the light of Christ so brightly.
    May God richly bless you, and your friend Mare, this day – out of the abundant riches of His grace and love,
    Kamea

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Eyes focused on Him right with you, Kamea! Hugging you long in my heart just now, sister. With you today…

  • Stephanie Hinz

    I have also been on both sides of this! Sometimes I wonder if I ever cross the mind of a certain friend…. Or sometimes a parent. And unfortunately, I have also been the one to forget to reach out, to show love, to care…. And then there are those irreconcilable differences. That can hurt the most. But God heals hearts and He can restore relationship, although sometimes it looks different restored. Doesn’t it? Thank you Ann for your transparency! That is refreshing to me. I’m praying to be a better friend. Just thank you!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Oh. your. heart. Stephanie! Glad we can just be real and honest with each other and hang on to each other and HIM! Thanks for your grace.

  • Lauren @ Sobremesa Stories

    I love this! I graduated from college a few years ago, and settling into the adult, married life has made it a challenge to maintain old friendships while also developing new ones in my new city. I’m learning how important it is for me to call my new friends (not just my old ones) in the midst of struggles or hard moments, instead of just after the fact when I can present the gift-wrapped version of what happened and how I overcame it. Sharing my brokenness right as it happens is so hard but I’m seeing such fruit in my relationships when I do. Thanks for this reminder that soul-friendships are always worth pursuing, no matter what season we’re in!

  • phoenix1920

    I love the rule about speaking life and using words of life that make others stronger. But I don’t know how to accomplish the first rule. People are the priority, but how do you balance all those needs? I’ve even taken myself out of the equation, trying to make sure I meet everybody else’s, but I am still behind. I have a friend from 20 years ago that retired recently and I need to reach out to here; I have a number of lifetime friends who live in another town that I rarely keep up with anymore. Most of my attention is divided between a job that is too demanding much of the time and my children, one of who has autism and needs special help in learning how to handle the world on her terms. I feel like I’ve been juggling for so long that my body is tiring out from it all, as I watch the balls around me fall on the ground.

    • Carol

      Yes, I know the demands of a job but even more I know working from my home office can be isolating and to make things feel more challenging is I’m overcoming my loner self! I am 54 and this change is just recently happening where in my Bible study, I feel connected and not inferior and less than then others and no one Ever knew this before till I spoke it Armour last class. I have been in this study for about 15-22 years!
      I have 2 adult children who I’ve not held in my heart enough over there growing up years and that now has changed. I bring them before the Lord every day – many times. Phoenix, you are putting your life in your child and that is awesome. Your child needs you!
      And also you still need to have at least one good friend and So I am praying for you in this .

  • Kim Coventry Horsley

    So what do you do with a 40 year friendship is ….gone. You asked for forgiveness and said you were sorry for something that was said in love to another… And then…nothing. You continue to reach out…to love…and yet… Nothing. My heart hurts. I miss “us”…we’ve shared do much life together and now… Nothing. I will continue to love with God’s grace.

  • Judy Martens

    Love this post! Floods my heart with a mixture of emotions…

  • Susan G.

    My story is similar to Ann’s. I failed to write back a friend a few years ago…I got too busy, a daughter and 2 grandkids moved in with us, we travelied back and forth to our ‘mountain getaway’, illnesses, deaths, a now fatherless grandson’s football, basketball and baseball games…and then I finally wrote a letter…but I didn’t write back soon enough. My story didn’t end there, but I can tell things just aren’t the same. If we want to be a friend and have friends, we have to be a better friend….
    Thanks Ann.
    Such good ideas to be a better friend!
    We need each other.

    • Carol

      Amen sister!

  • Nina Wichman

    Oh sweet Ann…I’ve been gone away too long from responding to your blogs…in a pit of grief in the midst of divorce. But I need to ask you to please not take on so much responsibility for the demise of this friendship. Yes we need to be intentional, and yes friendships take nurturing and care. With that, true friendships must be filled with grace for the other person. Clearly she had some deep abandonment issues that were triggered and instead of being vulnerable with you and “opening a vein” she retreated. What could have taken your friendship to the next level didn’t happen by HER CHOICE. And that is something to grieve, for sure. I’ve had friends who went to grad school, and suddenly we were talking every 6 weeks or so instead of every week. It was a season, it didn’t last forever. When we have a new baby and are swamped with all the stuff of life, there’s no way we can reach out in the same way as when life is a bit more stable. We have to let go of expectations that anyone can be all things to us and get our ultimate affirmation from Christ alone. I am so sorry she made the choice she did. She lost out in a big way. I would love the story to end that she would humble herself and apologize for letting her pain and anger rule her, and that you both could begin to slowly rebuild over time. But I know that isn’t always possible. My heart hurts for you, sister. <3 With much love, Nina

  • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

    Childhood friendships are so much simpler to forge and maintain than adulthood friendships. All of that “busyness” has a way of distracting us from the things that we crave most. Families of our own, and big-girl responsibilities elbow their way in, filling up all the space that once was.

    Friendship is a student of grace. The friendships that I’ve carried most effortlessly through adulthood are the ones where–we can both be busy, and not speak for a year, but when we do–it’s like we pick right back up where we left off. I don’t have a lot of those, but they are gifts to this ‘busy’, weary, grown-up-girl heart.

    I pray that the Lord will not waste any of the sorrow shared by you and “Mare” during this painful time. He is bigger than the pain. May He use it for His glory.
    ((Hug))

  • NEI

    It’s hard to explain to people the pain of losing a good friend, especially when they walk away from you. But you, you’ve experienced it, the shock of, I never imagined a life where you weren’t present, the “I didn’t know that what I was doing or failed to do, was causing you so much pain”

    What do you do with that pain and how do you keep it from stopping you from forging deep friendships in the present and the future? From questioning your intentions or even giving more than is healthy because you think, maybe i’m still not giving enough, still not doing enough. Sigh….

  • http://www.perceptionsandpassions.blogspot.com Kaitlin_Perceptions&Passions

    A mentor has placed this question on my heart a few years back: “Is it worth the relationship?” Relationships is of utmost importance to God. We must live by example protecting the relationship at all cost. This is very difficult for myself, but whenever I find myself reacting like Mare (of which I’ve done on several an occasion; it’s just easier), I try to open the palms of my hands again. Again, it’s difficult! But, if we are to profess the love of God, and witness to others, we have to remain open.

  • Sara Lauren Lewis

    This cut deep. I know I am a good friend to a few, but how many times have I not made a relationship (a real and dear person) a priority because of busyness? This past year I have grown leaps and bounds in authenticity and speaking life giving words, but intentional and consistent reaching out to new and old friends alike needs major work. Humbling and encouraging to read this from you, Ann.

  • Sandy Cloud

    Ann, though you don’t know me I love you and your writing – so very much…

    I just want to propose that maybe – just maybe – your friend set an unreasonably high bar and expected you to read her mind and jump high enough to suit her needs. If she had left a message that she urgently needed to talk to you, I’m guessing you would have made it a high priority to return the call. Isn’t clarity her responsibility? Or another message if the need is great?

    I hear what you are saying about nurturing our friends and their hearts for sure… but your priorities were also about caring for your family and sometimes, in the midst of the crazy, it is all we can do to survive. If our friendships can’t hold grace for that, I’m not sure how we are supposed to walk through together…?!

    Please, dear one, while taking responsibility for your part, don’t take it all. Two people, two hearts, two sets of choices…

    Much love.

    • Carol

      Yes, I feel this too

  • Brenda Meyer

    I love this discussion.. so many wonderful thoughts here. Thanks Ann for broaching this topic. I think by the time you reach my age (60 years plus), you realize some friends will leave, some are just for a season, and a few, a very few, will be there throughout your whole life… It’s hard, so hard to lose a close friend, but people are the only thing worth investing in, and we must never quit reaching out…

    • Carol

      I like that, “Never quit reaching out” I know what it’s like to feel slapped in the face and deep down so hurt that I closed again and it was a BIG step to open up in the first place and then to feel knocked down! Yeash! So it’s taken me a long time to risk the hurt again and i know I will always get hurt again.
      Something in me says it’s gonna be alright and not everyone causes me he emotional pain. Emotional pain is a part of life and forgiving each other’s grievances is too and knowing when to put up the wall because some behaviors are bad and unhealthy and knowing when to tear down the walls.
      I am learning that this life we are each given is important to share, to bring people into our lives and not be consumed by working in the office or busyness so much that I am going to drop dead.
      I feared relationships. Jesus says to bring it and all, people and all to Him and He will honor our trust in Him.
      Praise be to Jesus. Sing a new song!

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    Yes, you and me both, Bevy. You aren’t alone, you aren’t ever alone. He’s got you. And I’m praying!

  • CHosking

    I am also like Mare, the “forgotten friend”. I was indispensable, and neglected when she got too busy for me. My heart physically hurt with a pain I had never felt before.

    Ps 55:12-14 “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; If a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man (woman) like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship.”

    It has been 2 1/2 years and I still grieve the loss of my closest friend. I wanted to cling onto her and not give up on the friendship, I extended grace after grace. She was the one too busy for me, but I called, I emailed, I texted…I kept pursuing her. Then God tenderly spoke to me and told me I needed to let her go. Those words brought peace in the midst of the pain.

    This was the second time it’s happened to me, and I grieve the loss of those 2 friends. I grieve what we had…or what I thought we had. I am praying that God would bring to me a “Jonathan” who would not discard me when life get’s busy or the seasons change. That He would help me be willing to trust and be vulnerable again and open my heart to new friendships.

  • Diana

    I agree, Ann, that maybe you could ahve been a better friend. But friends offer grace and forgiveness and Mare should have done that for you. As far as I’m concerned she is at least as much responsible for the loss of your friendship. Don’t take on more guilt or culpability than is your true due. Mare needs to learn to forgive and have some understaning. She lost your precious friendship because she didn’t.

  • http://www.awholelottahoopla.com April

    Oh, this is so hard. Truth. Yet, so painful. I was just telling someone the other day that friendships aren’t like they used to be. Nowadays, friendships seem to ‘break’ as easily as cheap toys. Not always in the break of a ‘goodbye’ but far worse…after getting close…they retreat for no apparent reason back to surface friends. My heart yearns for close friendships, girlfriends that get me, that know me and want to call me and hang out and do stuff and we share our hearts and all that stuff.

    I have a wonderful husband, 3 beautiful boys whom we homeschool, a very busy business, etc. I have a full plate, I ‘get’ how easily the ‘busy’ virus can consume us. I know how different ages/stages of our life can engulf us and time can disappear in before we can even blink.

    And Grace. Buckets and truckloads and giant craters full of it. Because I understand. And I’m not perfect and I need grace like the air I breathe. And life happens and grace gets us through.

    But there’s no closeness with girl friends. And my heart yearns for the fellowship we’re created for.

    And then there’s FB…that window into the lives of our people. And we see the same ones that are so busy they can’t text back…not even when you steal a few minutes in the locked bathroom before the kids find you?? (or is just mine that always need something as soon as I need to ‘go’??) The ones that can’t get together for coffee (home brewed or coffehouse), can’t let our kids come over to play cuz they’re ‘just never home’. *breathe in, breathe out…grace* And you see the pictures and posts…and they can sting and bite and make us cringe and wince and cry out to God WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!? WHY can’t *I* have friends that WANT to do the things with ME that they’ve ‘found time’ to do…with others. And the wounds go deep. And truth gets distorted.

    The sting of the rejection…or perceived rejection, from soooo many different friends throughout so many years has left me feeling that since I’m the common denominator in all those ‘friendships’, I must be defective. That I’m just not cut out for deep friendships.

    Yet, yet.

    I’m not. I am not defective. I’m not perfect, but I AM a child of the King. And I was created in Imago Dei. And the Love is given to me to flow out, not hoard, and He will hold me in palm of His hand and catch every tear. And that I can still be a friend, and hopefully get some close friends, that I can be a conduit for God’s love to others, and I can be a blessing.

    Thank you, Ann, for this article! It’s refreshing and actually helped heal some pain! <3

    • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

      (((HUG)))

    • Penny

      April,

      So sorry, I hope this changes for you. Prayers for a true friend…… for you

  • Docbeccy

    In my adult life I’ve never had a close friend and it pains me but I apparently don’t know how to be or have a friend. My best girlfriend from High School and I stayed close but while I went off to the Army and continued with lots of school, she went back home and married her childhood sweetheart. Despite traveling hundreds of miles to come home she would insist I needed to come even further to see her even tho her mom lived across the street from mine. I would go, even the time I was 7 months pregnant and ran home emergently for my dad’s brain tumor operation. She made demands and I would try to meet them whenever I was there. So, 20 years after HS, I’m in the midst of my residency two little kids, one who did a seven week stint in the NICU and my husband’s a stressed out cardiology fellow, we barely made it home for the reunion because they kept canceling leaves as we just invaded Iraq (first gulf war). When I run in to my dear friend at the reunion she yells at me “Did you call me?” When I said no – thought we’d catch up here she very loudly calls me a B—h in front of hundreds of people! 15 years later it still hurts and she’s written me off, not nearly as gracefully as Mare did. I have continued to send her yearly Christmas cards and notes. She opted not to acknowledge or attend either of my parent’s funerals. I feel like I tried really hard but have no clue what I should have done differently. I have fervently prayed that the Lord would bring me a friend but the few times I thought a connection I’d made wanted to be best buddies I found myself listening to an MLM pitch! I guess blog posts like this just make me feel even more guilty about something I’m clueless about and still don’t have the tools to fix.

    • Ginger

      I know how you feel about praying for a close friend. We moved two years ago and even though I’ve been trying to forge new friendships, it feels like everyone else is too busy to add another person in their lives, but maybe Gods unanswered prayer is really an answer that I need to pour into my relationship with Him and my own family and be happy and content with the times when I do get together with a friend even if we are not close knit friends. Hope that helps you.

    • Penny

      I am so sorry that you were treated that way. That’s all I really wanted to say………Except I hope that one day you find the kind of friendship you deserve to have.

  • Providencia Stuart

    It’s a nice post, and it makes me grateful that I forged no friendship. Life circumstances made it like that. I don’t think I miss that, in fact I never knew what it is. Maintaining a friendship seems to be so much work, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. Thanks Ann for showing me that after all, it’s more a pain than anything else.

  • Ginger

    This week I’ve been struggling with feeling like If I didn’t make the effort to communicate, then there would be no communication. I feel like I’m the only one who cares and values friendship and even feel like a disruption at times.
    I don’t know what to do, keep trying or move on but with doors open?? I’m always ready and wanting get togethers and play dates and chats but haven’t been able to find a friend who gives the same effort. Feeling so dejected and convicted at the same time! God just opened my eyes and heart and gently whispered that I’m the one failing in my friendship with the one that matters most, the one with Him! He’s always trying to call out to me to communicate to draw me near to show his love, but I’m to busy with other priorities that shouldn’t be priority over a relationship with Him! Thank you lord for answered prayer!

  • Fran Decker

    I had to write to this because I’ve been Mare… and I don’t
    want to create additional problems in the life of someone that I love. But it really hurts to know that I just don’t make it to her top 10 list anymore and I would like to be a grown up and spiritual and really mean it if I say “oh that’s ok I know things are tough” but things are tough for all of us and we all have the same number of hours in a week and we all have to choose our priorities. And the reality is that when you’ve been so very close to someone, it’s hard to ‘undo’ that closeness. It becomes an embarrassment to have been so
    vulnerable to someone who now no longer has space in her life for you. So when we reach out to someone many many times (I’m sorry Ann but I am pretty sure this wasn’t the first instance.. you might not be attuned to the earlier situations) and there is very little initiation coming from the other side, it’s necessary to accept the fact that the friendship that was supposed to be forever, really isn’t because life got in the way. So I’ve had to move on just
    like Mare has had to move on. Painful as it is, it’s what is necessary to protect
    our own hearts. That doesn’t stop me from loving my friend deeply, it just
    stops me from expecting the relationship to be a two way street. And that means I have to love her from a distance. We’ll understand each other
    when we finally arrive at home.

  • Jennifer Doss

    This touched me so much today. I have been the “Mare” , too slighted, ignores too many times, finding no one there when I was going through something and needed my friend. Thankfully my friend wouldn’t let me give up. Reminded me of times I had been busy, and they had shown me Grace. Told me that they weren’t accepting my withdrawl from them. And thankfully that friendship remains intact today. But I know too well how busyness waters a root of bitterness and anger. How it colors my day with anger and expectation of being let down again. How it keeps my heart locked up so that no one can get too close to our again. And I miss out. I don’t want to miss out. So I will follow your advice. I already wss for the most part but I’ll try harder because I know what you wrote is true. Thank you

  • Mary Sedita

    I am afraid I am guilty of this and lost a good friend of over 15 years….someone who knew me better than I knew myself but still loved me.

  • KristenStrong

    Well now, this post right here is just glorious–in a convincing, convicting kind of way. Reading it through again…

    Much love, Ann. xo

  • Jebraun Clifford

    Sorry for such a difficult experience :-( It hurts the heart deeply when people drift out of our lives for whatever reason. But, honestly, it sounds like this is her problem and not yours. Your dear friend has been let down before (maybe in a major way!) and has not been able to forgive, and so this sensitivity to rejection has put an end to your deep and valuable friendship. There’s some bitterness that she needs to deal with, or this will be the result of every relationship because ain’t none of us perfect! Now, I’m not saying, “Forget her! Get over her!” But certainly extend yourself some grace. Yes, you got busy and maybe didn’t give this relationship the priority it needed at the time. Continue to love her and pray for her and seek to be a better friend to her and all the others in your life. But you can only go so far in seeking peace an pursuing it. The other person has to want it to. Thanks be to God that He wants to restore EVERY relationship. Be blessed and thanks for your humble words.

  • Denise

    Ann, I have to admit that in my life , this season of life. I feel like Mare. I have asked for playdates, asked for coffee dates, asked for just a simple call and all I keep getting is busy, busy, busy, I’m just soooo busy. It is really hard not to take these replies personal. In this season right now I’m in a tough parenting situation and could just really use just that one friend that I could lean on for support. That one friend that would pray for me, that one friend that would offer the ministry of prescence. But every one says they are too busy. I’m not one to beg for their time. Nor do I want to have to beg for someone’s friendship. So I just stopped asking altogether and just decided that Jesus is the one that I can lean on and trust . He is always available and I keep community with him. Maybe someday it may be that he will send a friend my way.

    • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

      (((Hug)))

  • Sharon Gunther

    Thank you for this post. I was a Mare. My story has a sweet ending, however. About 15 years after she walked away from me, she returned with tender apologies and regrets. It was a bittersweet reunion because our lives had grown so distant, but it was a true reunion nonetheless. God granted my request and my heart did not become bitter against her. I was able to forgive. We now communicate from a distance but with genuine sisterly love. Thank you again, Ann, for speaking the truth in a way that touched so many of our hearts, and reminded me again of God’s grace in my own life.

  • Beth Werner Lee

    Ann, I think you have written about this before and I thought, why would she hold her pain over Ann’s love? I’m sorry. I am praying for Mare. Because #5 on your list should be pray earnestly for your friends, that God gives them what they need even if it is time away from me. I guess I learned that the hard way too. I have had several seasons of feeling like I needed my friends more than they needed me and it’s humbling but then I came to the point where I would pray for God to supply my need, and a totally unexpected friend would pop in or call or reach out online (Monica Sharman!). So by prayer I mean seeing people as gifts from God and acknowledging his work in each and his ultimate control. Hm, did my gratitude list help me learn that, back in 2010? You bet, and that is thanks to you, Ann!

  • Donna M

    Thank you for your thoughts on friendship. I know how you feel. I lost a friendship relationship with my sister more than six months ago. It was our 50th Wedding Anniversary and we invited her family and husband to our Formal High Tea event. It was a beautiful event and we planned for months and worked for 5 days on the decorating of the reception room. Invitations were sent out and many replied yes. The event was held at the beginning of October and many of my relatives are Grain farmers as well. The celebration was held on a Saturday afternoon and even though over 26 people replied definitely yes,( most of the farmers) to the event they did not show. Out of my sisters family, only her and her daughter came….. her husband, son son in law stayed home to combine etc. That hurt us, we felt they could miss a couple of hours of harvest, to come and celebrate with us. Harvest comes every year, however a 50th Wedding Anniversary comes only once in a life time. To top things off my sister called me on the phone on the evening of our celebration to complain to me that I should have publicly thanked her and her daughter for coming 70 miles . We thanked everyone for coming in the end but we did not single her out as there were 125 guest there. I told her I was sorry that I did not know she wanted recognition. My sister then started to complain about other things that happened at the event. I had asked her to give a short tribute to us that day and she had refused. I was hurt. Told her she was being rude and inconsiderate and we have not talked since. I have tried to reach out to her by inviting her to Spring Tea. She came but hard spoke two words to me…. I tried to hold a conversation with her and she gave me the cold shoulder. What should I do?

  • http://www.dianewbailey.net/ Diane Bailey

    Ann, I am so sorry for your loss. The loss of a friend that you still love is so very painful. I have had my share of losses as well. If not for God sending me online friendships my life would have become so very lonely.

    I Love this “To be a friend that curves her heart into this safe cup for all her words and feelings to spill, the good and the grit, the grain and the chaff all mixed.”

    Yes thank you for reminding us to always be a safe place for friends.

    Thank you for sharing. Love you.

  • http://lisaappelo.com/ Lisa Appelo @Faithful and True

    Oh boy. This went straight to the heart. I will be reaching out tonight with a message to a friend. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. Thank you Ann for your transparency and I pray, as I always do for me, that Love will bridge the gap of my wrongs.

  • Deborah

    Dearest Ann, thank you for your inspiring articles. Your work has been a source of inspiration and motivation to me as I journey through my grief . I am a broken Mama who with Gods help is being glued back together with a new view. My son passed away nearly two years ago . Timothy was my only child He was only 22 yrs old. Tim lived his life here on earth ” full steam ahead ” and I’m so glad he did. He love the Lord with all his heart and Soul. Timothy’s life has touched and is still touching many for God. Again my gratitude to you for your awesome writing, cannot be penned. You almost read my Soul at times.
    Shalom Deborah

  • Penny

    Laura,

    Your post deeply touched me. I truly am sorry for your loss. My post from earlier had a similar ending to your’s. One of my biggest regrets in life was that I didn’t call my friend when I thought of him because I like you will never have a second chance.

    Prayers to you….

    • Laura Goslee

      Prayers for you as well Penny. The ache of missing runs deep and long. May He comfort you and bless you with healing grace for this sorrow.

  • Margaret

    I have to say that I have several lifelong sister-friends who are not the best at keeping in touch. Back in the day, I would check my mailbox, hoping for letters, answering all the ones I had written (with a pen, on real paper, stamped and put in the mailbox). If I didn’t hear back from them, sometimes I would wonder why. My grandmother told me I should write them on toilet paper and give them an ultimatum – that if I didn’t hear back from them, I’d NEVER write again. But, I made the decision that my love for them was not dependent on their response to my letters. I loved them for life regardless. So, I kept on writing my letters, and mailing my love to them. There was one friend, Becka, who rarely wrote, but I was certain of her love for me and never held it against her. Once in a blue moon, I would get a letter from Becka and it would be so exciting that she WROTE me!!!! I laugh at my grandmother’s suggestion about the toilet paper (I think she did write my sister on toilet paper once), and I’m thankful to be able to love my friends freely, without strings attached.
    That is from the Lord. We are loved like that! And it is a wonderful gift we can give to others.
    Margaret in the Middle East

  • Mary Rawls

    Thank you I needed this, I’ve kept myself holed up too long.

  • dale

    I have read many of your comments and have to say that people should not be so quick to judge Mare. You don’t know her and Ann’s relationship other than what Ann has wrote. Mare did not want gifts from Ann she wanted a phone call which Ann never gave her. As Ann’s friends we have watched her climb to fame over the last several years. It is not easy to watch a friend have time to respond to face book twitter and whatever else social media, fly all over the world but not have time to pick up the phone to see how a friend is doing especially if she knows they are going through a hard time. Before you judge Mare walk a day in her shoes and then make your decision. Ann remember that the people you needed on the way to the top you are going to need on the way back down.

  • EstherandJohn Shepherd

    Ann Thankyou so much for this timely word. Sigh… The balance is so hard … Between the call of friends and the call of family …. The days filled with ‘must do’s’ . The struggle with judgement from a lonely friend in the midst … Ahh , it all comes back to grace … Doesn’t it. Grace given … Over and above that which is deserved doesn’t come close to the grace we have received from the wounded hands of our Savior. Grace to stop, grace to hear, grace to act … Grace to love another in thought and deed ❤️

  • Pat Robinson

    Maybe it would be more gracious to not mention your outed friend by name.

  • Candace Sabala Artemenko

    After reading your post I am more grateful than ever that my friends at this point in my life, are not high maintenance. If we don’t connect it isn’t assumed that I (or they) no longer value the relationship. Life happens, people are important and space between times of connection are way ok in my life.

  • Lea Queener

    I have to ask God for a lot of wisdom for how to apply this. I have lots and lots of good friends, but sometimes, as an extrovert, I have to face the truth that I can’t humanly, possibly be best friends with everyone. Through many moves in my lifetime as a military spouse, the most important lessons about making and keeping friends (esp as an extrovert) are:
    — Keep your commitments. Don’t cancel plans with one friend just because a better offer came up. Let your yes be yes.
    — Let your words reflect your true heart. Don’t verbally overcommit in an immature friendship (refer to a new friend as “Aunt So-and-so instead of Mrs/Ms Si-and-so to your kids, sign an email “Love you!”, etc). Don’t spill your guts to someone you barely know (unless the Lord really leads you into a moment of vulnerability for specific ministry); there is wisdom in measuring vulnerability with the amount of trust and maturity a friendship can only gain through time. Just like you wouldn’t flirt with a bunch of beaux with no intention of pursuing a deeper, more committed friendship, don’t “flirt” with acquaintances you have no intention of going deeper in friendship with, for example, always saying “we’ll hang out SOMETIME” or “we should get together SOON” if you really have no intention, interest, or availability to do so.
    — People are always the priority, but certain people are a higher priority, including your spouse, kids, extended family, and long-time friends who are practically family. Never take family and longest-standing friendships for granted.
    –Friends who dump you for keeping your priorities straight are not good friends, and sometimes the mundane tasks of life must be prioritized to bless your tier 1 people at the cost of investing more in tier 2 people (for example, blessing your husband by tidying the house rather than getting coffee with a gal pal– my tendency is too spend too much time socializing rather than being a responsible homemaker)
    –Use social media wisely, especially in respect to whom you “friend” (if the friendship wanes or you never knew them that well to begin with, online “friendship” expectations can become awkward). Also, consider which friends may see posts about the wonderful time you’re having with other friends and whether that will make them feel particularly excluded or neglected (send a private text to the ones you spent time with instead of making it a public post).

    These are my biggest lessons…Introverts probably need a different set of encouragement, to be MORE vulnerable, to make plans, to get out of their comfort zones and make more friends, stop cleaning your already immaculate home just for today and have that coffee date with a friend…

    • Diana Fleenor

      Lea,
      Your reply really hit to the heart of some important truths that need to be considered with friendship and priorities. I, more of an introvert, appreciate hearing your view as an extrovert. Because I live with a chronic illness (severe chemical sensitivities) that makes face to face with other people very difficult, I have felt the grief and pain of deep loneliness. As I read Ann’s words in her blog and those who have commented, it is obvious that true, deep friendships take commitment and courage. Adding a situation that perplex and scare most people, I personally have found it makes things even more challenging.
      What I glean from your words, Lea, is a point to seek wisdom of who those the Lord would have for one to make priority in time, energy and depth. For me introversion plays out more in a need to re-energize as being around people will sap my energy and cause flares of pain, to the point of dysfunction. But in my heart, the Lord has cultivated such a desire to love others that I really want to be connecting with them, and deeply.
      One thing I can see about experiencing this very challenging illness is how I am learning to seek the Lord’s guidance on who and what to focus upon each day. There are so many needs around me and I would like to love on them all. But, alas, I have limits. I am human.
      As I was pondering the thoughts in this posts with the Lord, I was reminded of the time when Jesus had spent the night healing many in the crowd. The next morning, he went into solitude to pray to His Father. When the disciples found him, they told him people were looking for him, because there were others wanting healing. Yet, Jesus told the disciples that they were to move on to other towns to tell them of the Good News for this is why He came.
      Do you think that Jesus perhaps in His compassion wanted to stay in heal those, but in seeking out the Father’s instruction, the Father reminded Him of the plan? I hope I’m not placing “too human” of a premise on our dear, perfect Lord! I guess in looking at myself, I see my desire to love others is great but I’m limited both physically and in understanding. I need my Father’s direction to know which way to go. I need the Lord Jesus to lead me and He trusted the Father to lead Him.
      As I have already said, I have felt the deep pain of being “forgotten” by others many more times than I can count. Ann’s heart toward wanting to love this friend well is beautiful and she has been vulnerable to admit a time where she believes she could have been “a better friend”. I pray the Lord will grant her this desire as He directs her to those whom He would have her focus her time and affections, in the name of Christ and for the sake of His kingdom. Because isn’t that what true friendships are about? Seeking Christ and His kingdom together? Building each other up in Christ?
      And, I so agree with the other commenters who have written about the importance of grace and forgiveness in our friendships. We can’t be truly yoked together without the most essential attributes of our precious Lord! I hope and pray for both Ann and Mare to have a deep healing that will in turn display the works of God in an amazing way!
      BTW: Would any of you pray for me for healing of my many flare-ups and wisdom in the steps I take every day so that I can be that “better friend” too! Thank you and blessings to you all!

      • Lea Queener

        Hi Diana! I love what you said! I am sorry to hear about your chronic illness and will pray for your healing. One of my dear friends who also deals with chronic illness longs for connection, yet she too struggles with the balance her reality requires. She has explained it to me that her energy is like having five tokens each day–only five–and she has to decide whether to spend those energy tokens on responsibilities (like cleaning), socializing/relationships, hobbies/interests, etc, and just one of those may take up all five of a given day’s coins, so she has to be very, very careful. I am always so incredibly honored when she chooses to spend some of those tokens on me. I did want to apologize for my insensitivity in painting with broad strokes that all introverts are too busy for friendships because they are cleaning their homes. I hope my jesting tone came through about that, but I just wanted to admit that I recognize that my tone may not have come across that way, and did not acknowledge the many other reasons, such as chronic illness, caring for children/parents/family members, pursing an education, having to work multiple jobs, etc that could also hinder one’s ability to invest more in relationships. I am so blessed that I have so many opportunities for friendship that I must pause to choose wisely. What I loved best about what you said is yes, to look to Jesus for our example, as the perfect expression of human love lived out. Sometimes, He moved through crowds and never seems to mind an interruption. Other times, we see Him carefully guarding His time. As so many others have said, certainly so much grace much be extended to one another, and we must carefully guard against assumptions about what the other party is thinking or feeling. I’m so thankful for friends I’ve been able to do life with for more more than half my life now, but these friendships have lasted because we have extended one another much grace through many different seasons and adjustments in what our friendship looked like, for example, from living together in college, to just getting together once awhile, to an occasional phone call, or regularly scheduled Skype dates, and now again in person since I’ve moved back home, but being in different seasons in life and having developed different interests and preferences while we were apart… Flexibility, grace, forgiveness!

        • Diana Fleenor

          Lea, I’m an truly blessed and encouraged by your reply. Thank you for prayers for me and my health situation. And, I commend your loving response and listening ear for your friend in her chronic illness. It is obvious that you are listening to this friend as you were able to relate her analogy of the “only five coins” here so well. I actually feel “heard” in this analogy as I can say with your friend, “Me, too!” Oh how I pray the Lord will touch your friend’s heart with His love as she spends time needing to re-energize. He has loved me as I pour out my broken heart to Him. Even in this, I continue to ask for rescue from this very limited connection with others, especially those in the family of God.
          And, what a sweet and sensitive thought and apology in concern for being insensitive to us “introverts”. On one hand, you are right that it is important to “not paint with such broad strokes” any classification of people groups. Overgeneralizations, like assumptions you mentioned before, can create biases about individuals that just may not be true. However, on the other, I do believe the things you brought out in regard to introverts may be true for individuals with this tendency to at least consider. I, for one, appreciate both hands you presented here:) May the unity in love Jesus calls His disciples to blossom in your sphere, in my sphere and in the sphere of each of those who have commented on this post. He is the One who will be faithful to do it!

  • http://melissalongval.wordpress.com Melissa Longval

    Jesus was always willing to enter into the uncomfortable places. I am so grateful for the friends who have entered into my uncomfortable spots. I purpose to do the same for them. Thank you Ann for your transparency and honesty. Being willing to be vulnerable is important. Authentic friendship…what greater blessing is there?

  • Nancy T.

    Ann ~ Thank you so much for your honesty and openness! Sometimes it seems like lessons learned are too painful to share, but the truth is that they are the most valuable to others!
    Your words shared are treasures to thousands! May God continue to bless and use you – super-abundantly!!!

  • T Tina

    Dear sweet Ann, you could add a #5 to your list that says “Extend grace, forgiveness and love”, which I must say your “friend” Mare has not done for you. I will lift up a prayer for this friendship, for God to restore. Love covers a multitude of sins.

  • Beth Williams

    Ann,
    Thank you for the “4 ways to a better friend”. God created us for community. To be with other people and shower them with His love. I believe that one should try to always make friendship a priority, even though it may be hard. We have a lot of demands on our lives as we age, but that is all the more reason to reach out to others. I reaching out to others be real. Leave all the masks and fakes at home & be honest with your friends. Just send a note, card, e-card, text or call that friend and check on them. God wants us to share each other’s burdens. The only way to do that is to make friendship a priority!
    Blessings: ) Praying for you and Mare!

  • Rebecca

    I know this is going to sound incredibly silly..but I used to have a Raggedy Anne doll and when I went into foster care when I was six I never saw her again. Still miss that doll. Funny how pictures bring up interesting memories. I always love the photo’s you post on your blog.

  • Charlotte Barnes

    If only my friends could read the letters on my heart that I wrote but never sent and listened to the phone conversations we had in my head I intended to have but never got around to , …. if only. The good ones that is, the good ones. This crazy world of ours is so fragile. We need each other, especially our sweet sisters in Christ.

  • Jan

    Ann,
    I just read your post and so thankful for the words of encouragement.
    Just this morning at 3:15am while my husband and I are up getting ready for our Fit Team cross fit challenge class (yes very early classes) (at gyms we operate) my dear friend text me and told me she would”t have time to make it to class. Her newly high school graduate and only child, emotional frustrations over his parents last weeks final divorce and his graduation in one week, kept her up into the late early morning hours of conversation with him. “My “first response was to not text back because” my” daily duties were on” my” list and” my” time was to get to” my” class on time so” my” gym friends would not be waiting for “me.” But the hesitation was not too long and I texted her back telling her it was totally ok to not come to class and her son’s emotions are surely understandable. My friend text back immediately and said , “Thanks Jan I knew you’d understand.” Really, me understand? Did I not mention how many “My” and “Me’s were in my earlier thoughts? Just yesterday I stopped by her work place to see how she was doing and she was so grateful for the break in work, to talk about her new move into town and some life changes. What I am trying to do these past few months is take out the “I” in conversations and daily routines and plug in the “You” time. even if it be just a text or short visit. Yet, this early a.m. I failed to jump at the chance at helping an unsaved soul, which is more important than those minutes of arriving on time for class. It is more important to have my friend become adopted into God’s family thru his saving grace and arrive in heaven someday where we both will be HIs time! Ann, I am so glad I came across your Christian, heart searching, uplifting, and genuine God yearning site. Thank you for making it possible to know God better thru you. Keeping our eyes fixed on” thee” above, Jan

  • mona

    Dear Ann
    I feel your friend Mare should have forgiven you.
    She was hurt, yes,but now, she has built a wall around her heart to keep you out.
    What would Jesus have done??
    He would have been so delighted to hear from you again,
    He would be rejoicing .
    So sad.
    Be blessed dear sister in Christ,
    Monica

  • http://www.holyvacationqueen.com Kathy/holyvacationqueen.com

    Wow, thank you. You touched upon a deep wound. I, too, lost a dear friend in a similar way, tried building bridges back, but no response. I live with “if only”…i hope to do friendship better now. Thank you for your honest story and ideas for being a better friend.

  • Jess

    Dear Ann,
    Thank you for this! It is nice to know that we are “not alone” in this either! I personally have experienced “the strain” as well in relationships. I think I have been on both ends if I’m honest. I have been the “Mare.” I have also been where you are Ann…
    I have found myself distancing myself from a sister-in-law who’s words on many occasions lacked compassion, and I found myself feeling hurt afterwards. Overtime, I have found perspective. I can love this sister-in-law who is also a sister in Christ and not take things so personally. I can offer grace and pray away the “chaff.” (thanks Ann =) I can take the good and leave the bad because it doesn’t change who I am in Christ. Beloved.
    Thank you dear Margaret for your encouraging words. To keep on giving, not focusing on what we are getting. It truly is more blessed to give than receive as Jesus spoke. Relationships do hurt on this side of heaven. To truly focus on the giving, the Jesus giving it all…and the being thankful part! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • AJ

    I’ve been on both sides of the fence on this one…. I’ve been hurt by friends who haven’t kept in touch as well as I would have liked…. And I have been a friend who hasn’t kept in touch as well as I should have… I definetely agree that we need to be intentional regarding investing in friends And the people God places in our lives..But sometimes friendships are for a season and they change, people move sometime far,far away…life happens and time continues to slip through the hourglass of life…. I cant help but be frustrated with Mare’s response, she rejected her friend even if it had been a delayed in returning the call… She could have called back… Life is too short to hold onto bitterness amd to keep scores when it comes to frienships….I think a true friend will be someone that you can pick back up with even if years have passed, even if you failed miserably, and even if you never hear from your friend again…I believe we should cherish the time that we did have together it is a gift.

  • Mama Kel

    I’ve had to come back to this post. Pretty painful. In this city for almost eleven years and not a bestie to be found. Other friends are across the globe and distant in many ways. The younger our kids were, the more I held out hope here. Now we all seem to be at the age where everyone has chosen someone or relies on family and I admittedly have not been a good model for my children, who are also bestie-less. The question I come back to is what are we to learn from this? Drawing closer to God has been at the forefront, and for me, I could almost leave it at that. But I don’t think that’s what He’s intended, for me or my children and husband. I’m looking at the “4 Ways” and praying for a friend for my children who will want to see the messy past the mask and not just the pretty facebook posts. Thank you for your guidance.